A glimpse into the life of Mufti Abdul Haleem Ashrafi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه
Maulana ‘Ata Al-Nabi Husayni Misbahi
Perhaps the most significant moments in a person’s life are his arrival in the world followed by his subsequent departure. Both are related yet bring about polar opposite feelings. The departure of a loved one is a painful experience for the family and friends of the person. Then, there are some souls whose departure from this temporal world is felt by entire communities, impacting hundreds of thousands of people. The passing of these great individuals leaves behind a void that seems impossible to fill. Faqih of Ahl al-Sunnah, the patron of Dawat-e-Islami, Mufti Abdul Haleem Razavi Ashrafi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه is one such kindred soul.
On 12th Ramadan 1442 AH, at around 9:45 pm, his eminence, the great religious, intellectual and transformational personality of North Bihar, ‘Allamah Mufti Abdul Haleem Razavi Ashrafi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه left this mundane world for the eternal abode. Sunnis worldwide were grieved by the news of his demise. Although his eminence is no longer amongst us, his memories, words, and legacy are perpetual reminders of him. Love and devotion for Mufti Abdul Haleem رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه demands that we preserve his legacy and memories of him and follow in his footsteps.
Birth, name, and lineage
He was born in a village called Dadri in Zila Sita Marhi to a family known for its love of the ulema and support of the poor. His name and lineage are as follows: Al-Haj Mufti Abdul Haleem Ashrafi Razavi b. Muhammad Muneer al-Deen b. Shayr Ali b. Hubb Ali b. Ramadan Ali b. Amanat Ali Siddeeqi.
Education and upbringing
After completing the initial phases of learning with a local scholar, his eminence enrolled at Noor-ul-Huda, the madrasah founded by acclaimed saint Shah Abdur Rahman Mahabba رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه. In 1953, upon the instruction of Mufti Aziz-ur-Rahman Siddeeqi Razavi Faizpuri, he travelled to the renowned seminary Manzar-e-Islam, Bareilly, and furthered his studies there. In Bareilly, he studied ‘Meezan wa Munsha’ib,’ ‘Nahw Mir,’ and other books with Maulana Ahmad Ansari Madanipuri and Mufti Aziz-ur-Rahman Siddeeqi Razavi Faizpuri. He also studied under:
1. ‘Allamah Reyhan Raza Khan Rahmani Miyan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه (Sharh Miati ‘Aamil and Nafha-tul-Yaman)
2. ‘Allamah Ghulam Jeelani A’zami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه (Persian couplets of Mi’atu ‘Aamil)
3. ‘Allamah Na’eem-ud-Deen Ahmad Siddeeqi Razavi Ghorkhapuri (Mishkat Al-Masabih, Jalalayn, and other works).
4. ‘Allamah Maulana Hafiz Qaari Al-Haaj Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Urf Jahangir Fatehpuri رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه (rational sciences and works of Arabic literature).
5. Mufti Sayyid Afzal Husayn Mongiri رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, the foremost teacher of Madrassa Manzar-e-Islam (Fiqh specialisation).
6. ‘Allamah Muhaddith Ihsan Ali Muzaffarpuri رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه (Dawrah Hadith).
Bay’ah and authorisation
Upon the guidance of his teacher ‘Allamah Ihsan Ali Qadiri Razavi Muhaddith Bihar, his eminence took the spiritual pledge and was initiated into the Qadiriyyah Chishtiyyah Ashrafiyyah Order at the hands of Sayyid Muhammad Ashrafi, famously known as Muhaddith-e-A’zam Hind رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه. Following the demise of his spiritual mentor, he then became a disciple of Mufti Mustafa Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه – the son of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, who later authorised him in the spiritual path. He was also authorised by the Qutb of Madinah Ziya-ud-Deen Ahmad Razavi Al-Madani, Shaykh Habib-ur-Rahman Qadiri, and the Muhaddith of Bihar ‘Allamah Ihsan Ali Qadiri Razavi رَحِمَهُمُ الـلّٰـه.
After completing his studies, his teacher Mufti Afzal Husayn رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه encouraged him to teach, remarking that ‘You will lose everything you have attained through studying Dars-e-Nizami unless you begin teaching. Even if you must teach the foundation years, the classroom is where you should be.’ Taking heed of his teacher’s words, his eminence began teaching at Manzar-e-Islam, Bareilly. On 3rd April 1966, through the mediation of ‘Allamah Mushtaq Ahmad Nizami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, he was transferred to Jami’ah Arabiyyah Nagpur of Faqih-ul-Asr Mufti Abdur Rasheed Ashrafi Na’eemi Fatehpuri رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه.
Mufti Abdul Haleem was a dedicated teacher and mentor who gave his life to teaching and students. After this, he became occupied in spreading the call to Islam. Due to his engagements in travelling, he did not find much time to write. However, when there was a pressing need, he authored some booklets which were well received:
1. The Islamic ruling regarding the film Khana Khuda.
2. The Status of the Beard in Islam.
3. Fatawa Haleemiyah - a collection of his written legal edicts.
Every achievement of Faqih of Ahl al-Sunnah Mufti Abdul Haleem رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه is worthy of being preserved in golden ink, however, his services and sacrifices in establishing and building Dar-ul-Uloom Ziyaiyyah Fayz-ur-Raza, and in strengthening and bettering its education system will always be remembered.
His ascetism and piety
The oceans of knowledge and piety met in his person and his mindfulness of Allah Almighty was recognised by those who knew him. It was due to these precious qualities that he was appointed as the head of Dar-ul-Ifta of Jami’ah Arabiyyah Nagpur. He made this request to Mufti Abdur Rasheed رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه: ‘It is only because of your generosity and your encouragement that you have given me this responsibility. However, I will only accept this responsibility on the condition that I will not take the same remuneration that was previously given to Maulana Zayn-ul-‘Aabideen (He headed the Dar-ul-Ifta before Mufti Abdul Haleem رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه). I will provide my services without remuneration, for the sake of Allah Almighty.’ His wage was around 150 rupees at that time. Mufti Abdur Rasheed رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه replied, ‘You have a family and prices are forever on the rise. How will you meet your needs and the needs of your family with your current small wage? Therefore, you will have to accept this higher remuneration.’
Mufti Abdul Haleem رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was impressed by this generosity of Mufti Abdur Rasheed رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, but his faith was of the highest calibre, so insisted: ‘Shaykh! What you said is correct, however, my heart will not allow me to be remunerated for this. I am paid for teaching and leading prayers; how can I say that I am serving Islam whilst I am paid for every service I extend. At least if the writing and issuance of Fatawa is carried out free of charge then my heart will be content.’
Humility and mindfulness of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ
The member of Dawat-e-Islami’s Central Advisory Committee Maulana Abdul Habib Attari related that ‘I visited him in Madinah and found him crying alone. So, I asked, ‘Shaykh! Why are you crying?’ He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه replied, ‘I just came across a hadith about not being forgiven. I remembered that prior to arriving in Madinah, there was a student of knowledge who I sent out of the class due to a mistake of his. Although he continued to apologise, I did not accept it and refused to teach him. I am crying after reading this hadith; O Allah, I have forgiven him so you forgive him too.’